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From adverb to conjunction and back: The (de)grammaticalization of Dutch dan

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Abstract:

In late Middle Dutch, the temporal adverb dan “then” grammaticalized into an adversative coordinator (“but”), which remained in use up to the nineteenth century. This paper investigates how adversative dan can be deduced from earlier usages and why it later disappeared. The paper’s first part discusses how temporal dan developed an exclusive function (“except”), from which the adversative use is derived. Semantic maps are used to represent the development, and to make clear similarities and differences with German and English cognates of dan (dann/denn and than/then respectively). The second part reports corpus studies of seventeenth and eighteenth-century letters and diaries, showing text type and frequency effects on the use of adversative dan, which led to its disappearance. This will be interpreted as a peculiar case of degrammaticalization, lacking semantic enrichment and syntactic flexibilization which normally accompany degrammaticalization. The case of dan suggests that text type and frequency are important factors in (de)grammaticalization.

Keywords: Dutch; coordinating conjunction; dan; degrammaticalization; frequency; grammaticalization; semantic map; text type

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1075/dia.29.3.02rut

Publication date: 2012-01-01

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